Renault SA will mark its presence at Germany's Frankfurt Motor Show in September with the debut of a pair of unusual concept vehicles: the Egeus luxury cross/utility vehicle and the Clio Renaultsport small car.

Egeus represents Renault's vision of the modern high-end CUV, blending traits from traditional wagons, sedans and utility vehicles.

Egeus luxury CUV Concept

“Egeus is an SUV for city driving and the open road, a sort of tall coupe that combines driving pleasure with elegance and sportiness,” says Patrick le Quement, senior vice president-corporate design.

With a rakish, almost coupe-like profile, accentuated by short overhangs and massive 22 in. wheels pushed out to the corners, the Egeus exudes an athletic character and a cohesive, yet contemporary design.

A vast greenhouse featuring a rounded windshield and bubble-shaped glazed roof with transparent panels produces a very un-SUV silhouette, however.

The concept's blunt rear end, with its wraparound glass and prominent winged fenders, gives the appearance of an oversized performance hatchback.

Conventional front doors and rear-hinged “suicide” back doors (ala the Mazda RX-8) allow access to four leather bucket seats, which front passengers can lower 2.8 ins. (7 cm) and pivot outwards for ease of entry.

Complementing its “Cythere Blue” paintwork, the Egeus' luxurious interior incorporates beige leather, blue-tinted hues of various materials and textures and a manta ray-styled dashboard, which Renault says evokes the feel of an underwater world and adds to the environment's serenity.

Other noteworthy interior features include a retractable driver-information screen and multi-media control knob centered on the dash and a split liftgate/tailgate rear hatch incorporating a motorized, height-adjustable package tray.

A speed-correcting navigation system that alerts the driver when the system's recommended speed has been exceeded and an off-road roll control system that displays the vehicle's attitude in relation to the terrain below complete the special features.

Power for the Egeus comes from a turbocharged 250-hp 3L V-6 diesel engine that features a particulate filter and is Euro 4 emissions-compliant.

A 7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift function improves the engine's efficiency and transfers power to the fully automatic 4-wheel- drive system, which can shift up to 100% of the engine's power to any wheel, Renault says.

The Renault V-6's 406 lb.-ft. (550 Nm) of torque should be more than adequate to motivate the Egeus' 4,300-lb. (1,950 kg) girth, which is comparable with the Infiniti FX45 CUV, but nearly 500 lbs. (227 kg) lighter than the Mercedes-Benz ML500 and BMW X5 4.4i.

The Egeus' 185-in. (470-cm) length, 65.4-in. (166-cm) height and 114- in. (290-cm) wheelbase also puts it on comparably equal footing with its competitors.

However, the concept's 11.2 ins. (28.5 cm) of ground clearance should allow it to crawl over most obstacles that would hang up even perennial off-road favorites, including the Hummer H2 and Land Rover LR3, the auto maker says.

Several leading technology suppliers assisted Renault with some of Egeus' more innovative features. Most notable is Valeo SA of France, which supplied the adaptive light-emitting diode headlight modules, incorporating running- and indicator-light functions.

Other suppliers include Montupet SA (custom alloy wheels), Stabilus GmbH (DORSTOP hydraulic door positioner) and Michelin Group (custom Eden Weiss on-/off-road tires with PAX run-flat technology).

Clio Renaultsport Concept

Joining the Egeus at Frankfurt will be the Clio Renaultsport Concept, a performance-design study by Renault Sport Technologies that heralds the debut of the new Clio III small car, set to go on sale in early 2006, Renault says.

The auto maker says the challenge of designing the 2-door hatchback concept was to retain the original spirit of the Clio III while enhancing its intrinsic qualities and dynamic capabilities. In other words, Renault wanted to make it look cooler and handle better.

Highlighting the design of the Clio Concept is a rear underbody diffuser, the first application of the Formula 1 racing-derived technology on a car in this segment, Renault claims.

By using the diffuser, along with the car's lowered stance and more aggressive body cladding, Renault says aerodynamics and high-speed stability improve, while the need for a large rear spoiler is eliminated.

Additional styling cues include chrome-zinc-plated trim on the grille, air intakes, mirrors and diffuser. Extractor vents behind the front wheels aid in air management and heat dissipation from the engine bay. Dual exhaust outlets within the diffuser further add to the car's performance.

Mechanically, the Clio Concept is powered by a 2L 4-cyl. engine massaged by Renault Sport Technologies and mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.

Power is routed to 7-spoke, 18-in. wheels hiding large Brembo disc brakes – 13 ins. (33 cm) up front and 11 ins. (28 cm) in the rear. An aluminum-intensive and performance-tuned 4-wheel independent suspension keeps body motion under control.

On the inside, the Clio Concept mirrors the layout of the larger Egeus CUV, with its four individual bucket seats separated by a long center console. Black, gray and body-colored red leather wrap the seats and steering wheel, while aluminum racing pedals add to the aggressive look.

A large panoramic sunroof is incorporated into the design, which highlights the chrome-zinc center console, steering wheel and various other trim pieces.

msutton@primediabusiness.com